Queer issues

Just being gay is not a political programme

Reflections on Mardi Gras 2001

  • Andreas Speck

London's gay scene is preparing for Gay Pride on 30th June. Again a big commercial party in Finsbury Park - lots of music, lots of drugs, and … a little bit of politics, just enough to still call it a demonstration. This year Mardi Gras will highlight gay partnership rights, the last big issue that remains open after gays won over the British government on the issue of gays in the military. But what is all this about?

Collective identities: trap or tool for empowerment?

Collective identities — „we" as queers, as whatever group you like — are often perceived as empowering, as providing a sense of belonging. On the other hand through their very existence, collective identities produce new boundaries of „in" and „out", and new norms of behaviour that limit peoples’ freedom to be and to do. Not only can identity be disempowering, but it can also threaten peoples’ lives, as nationalist and homophobic attacks show. Maybe I’m stating the obvious here. I consider none of all the collective identities normally discussed (be they ethnic, gender, or nation-based) as „natural"; all of them are social constructions. This doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or that they don’t have an influence on our lives, but it means that we have an active role too in our collective identities, in stabilising or de-constructing them. As I am a gay man, I will mainly write from this perspective. However, I’m convinced similar processes are at work in the construction of other collective identities, and therefore my thoughts are not limited to issues of gay identities.


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